Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad

Edinger, Monica (Author)
Byrd, Robert (Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2013. 60 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780763650384 (hardcover)
9780763676476 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Memoir

Text Elements:

character, conflict, multimodal, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Magulu is 9 years old when her father trades her for rice so that her family can survive. She ends up on a ship called the Amistad bound for Cuba. There she is sold as a slave to America. But the men on the ship revolt and kill many of their white captors. When they arrive in New Haven, a trial ensues. The Africans win, as slavery at the time was illegal, and are returned home. Magulu, misnamed Margru, then called Sarah Kinson, spends time in both Africa and America, is educated at Oberlin College, and finally returns to her homeland.

This extraordinary story of resilience, faith and mutiny is told from Magulu’s point of view in an intimate first-person voice: “I sobbed as we were pushed into the canoes, trembled when we came to the slave ship, and despaired as we boarded and went down into the dark hold.” Emotive and effective in its storytelling, the text is dense but riveting; it would make for a wonderful read-aloud when broken down into several parts.

Illustrations, historic newspaper clippings and archival images break up larger sections of text. The lush, dense watercolour and ink paintings use flat perspectives and a naïve folk art style to depict striking contrasts between the green of Africa and the buttoned up, conservative and cold life in America.

This fascinating fictional retelling of a true story facilitates an understanding of this important moment in history.

  •  Read the author’s note and discuss how fiction and non-fiction elements are combined in this story. Reflect on this as you read.
  •  

    Make a timeline of the important events in Magulu’s life.

  •  

    Working with a group, choose a scene from the beginning, middle or end of the book. Dramatize the scene and present it along with the other groups to create a play based on the story.

  •  

    Research human rights. Make note of the different ways Magulu’s human rights were violated. Discuss whether you think our laws currently protect the human rights of all people.

  •  

    Brainstorm what you know about slavery and form a class list. As the story is read aloud, adjust the information.

  •  

    Imagine and discuss what it must be like to leave your family and go to another continent.

  •  

    On a world map, trace Magulu’s journey. Add vignettes to tell what she did in each place.

  •  

    Create a mind map or a story map to retell the key moments of this story.

  •  Use teacher-selected resources to research the story of the Amistad. How does it compare to this story?
  •  

    On a map, label the places mentioned in the book. Share your collective knowledge about the geography, social justice and economics of these places, especially in the mid-19th century. Create a KWL chart and fill in the gaps as you read.

  •  

    Carefully observe the illustrations and text on the pages of Magulu’s dreams. Describe the techniques used by the illustrator to help convey emotion through these dreams. Compare the last dream in the book with the others.

  •  

    Write a short narrative text about your culture, your values or a family tradition. Practise telling it orally—traditional African style—and share it with classmates.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Social Sciences